Online reading assignment: flipped classroom, motions and cycles (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2017
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on Earth's rotation/precession/revolution/tilt, the moon's motions and cycles, and watching two video presentations on the flipped class: "What Is the Flipped Class?" and "How the Flipped Classroom Works."

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"One thing that I found interesting was how the celestial north pole appears to be near different stars depending on the era, because of precession of Earth over time. This was personally interesting for me because prior to learning this I thought that the star near the celestial north pole remained the same over time."

""From the textbook: 'Australians see many constellations and asterisms invisible from North America, but they never see the Big Dipper.' As a child finding the Big Dipper was my expertise, to think if I was raised in Australia that I'd never find the Big Dipper blows my mind, I now wonder which asterism I'd be obsessed with today if I was raised there."

"I am really excited to learn the terminology for such beautiful moments as when I see a planet in the dawn or evening sky. I never new we called them 'evening stars' and 'morning stars.' Also the Zodiac and its alignment with our calendar months."

"I found the concept of precession to be the most interesting because it impressed on me the idea that we are studying something infinitely vast from such a limited relative perspective. There is so much more going on than we are able to perceive."

"A concept that I found interesting from the reading was about an asterism: a named grouping of stars that is not one of the recognized constellations. The example the book provided was the Big Dipper and that it is really part of the constellation Ursa Major. This is particularly interesting to me because I had never known that. I thought the Big Dipper was the name of it as a constellation, and yet it is just a part of a bigger piece of the sky. Also, I had no idea that the word 'zodiac' meant."

"Tilt. I found this interesting because I didn't know that in the winter the sun was lower in the sky and in the summer the sun was higher in the sky."

"Seasons are super-interesting! I did not they are caused by the amount of solar energy that Earth's northern and southern hemisphere receive."

"Though I've always been fascinated by the moon, its orbit and phases were beyond me. Aside from knowing the basics--waning, waxing, full, new--learning about what causes the moon to appear full and not as full was extremely interesting. I also found it interesting that the reason we see the same face of the moon all the time is caused by the tidal coupling between Earth and the moon."

"I thought the way the presentation was set up was very interesting. I think I like it more than just sitting in a boring classroom taking notes."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I was slightly confused about Earth's axis taking 26,000 years for one cycle. I can visualize it, but for some reason it doesn't fully make sense."

"The difference between rotation and revolution. I think I've got it down but I can't confidently say I could distinguish the two."

"The use of the starwheel."

"I found the cycle of seasons to be a little confusing. I never knew that earth actually tilted which is what causes the seasons."

"When trying to guess the names of the moons I was a little confused. Which one was waxing and which one was waning, or crescent, or gibbous. New moon and full moon I get; just other ones took me a minute to get the order of how the terminator moves across the moon."

What date would Virgo be just above the east horizon, as seen by an observer at 11 PM in San Luis Obispo, CA? (Ignore daylight saving time.)
February 20.  ******************* [19]
April 25.  ** [2]
July 4.  [0]
August 20.  ** [2]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *********** [11]

Match these cycles with their approximate duration.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Earth's rotation: 24 hours [94%]
Earth's revolution: one year [88%]
Earth's precession: 26,000 years [100%]
The moon's revolution: one month [81%]

I believe astrology is able to make accurate predictions about my future. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
Strongly disagree.  ******** [8]
Disagree.  ****** [6]
Neutral.  **************** [16]
Agree.  *** [3]
Strongly agree.  * [1]
Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
"I believe astrology was originally used long ago when Ancient people did not know much about the world and they used the position of the stars to make predictions about their fate and future. However, now that we have a more accurate scientific understanding of the world, I believe we can say with certainty that the position of the stars have absolutely nothing to do with our future."

"The notion that the position of the stars, relative to Earth, has any hand in determining a person's life, is ridiculous."

"It's fun to read but I don't know of any studies or proof to validate any of the claims."

"The ancients had far less material distractions in their lives than we do now. I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that they may have had a sharper sense of personality and character traits etc. than we now do."

"I believe that there can be links between astrology and predictions, but I believe it has to do more with human behavior rather than what may or may not happen to you in the near or far future."

"I've always loved astrology, so I am biased, but it seems reliable."

Place these moon phases in chronological order in their cycle (starting with new moon).
(Only correct responses shown, in unscrambled order.)
New moon: first [88%]
Waxing crescent: second [82%]
First quarter: third [88%]
Waxing gibbous: fourth [74%]
Full moon: fifth [76%]
Waning gibbous: sixth [65%]
Third quarter: seventh [79%]
Waning crescent: eighth [62%]

Explain what is different about homework in a flipped class.
"Homework is based off of the knowledge one collects on their own, as a conventional class homework is review."

"It seems like the consumption of content is done at home and practice is done in the classrooms, instead of vice versa."

"Homework is done before coming to class so students can formulate questions and maximize class discussion time."

"In a flipped class students have access to instructor videos/lectures ahead of time to free up in class one-on-one time between instructor and students for a more hands on learning approach vs. sitting through a lecture without any engagement."

"Homework in a flipped class is more important because you are teaching yourself the topics. If you go to class without doing the homework it will probably be extremely hard to understand and participate in class. In a conventional class homework isn't nearly as important in the learning process."

Describe where/when most student learning occurs in a flipped class.
"Most of the learning is done on your own, outside of the class, so you can take full advantage of the teacher going around and helping individuals during class time. Whereas, in a conventional class, the learning is done in class, while work is done outside of class."

"Most of the learning should occur when you are in class. By asking questions that you have and by doing things"

"In the classroom because you're working with your peers."

"The student learning occurs outside of the classroom, knowing what is to be expected for the next lesson. But on the other hand, the student is able to learn more inside the classroom with improved teacher assistance since a concept has initially been taught before class. "

Pick one piece of student advice from the previous semester, and discuss why you agree (or disagree) with it.
"'For the love of God read the textbook!' This one hit me like a ton of bricks because I am a serial skimmer/not reader and it's such a bad way to approach classes. I needed to see this as a (not so) gentle reminder to get it together and just do the reading."

"'DO ALL THE READING ASSIGNMENTS.' I feel like I have to agree with this one. It's in all caps which makes me think this kid didn't do all the reading assignments and fell behind because of it. OR this person did do all the reading assignments and knows how important it is to your grade. Either way I should probably just do the reading assignments."

"'Keep up with the readings and assignments and don't skip class.' I agree with this person because if you skip class its like not doing your homework and if you don't do the readings and assignments then you might as well just drop the class cause you won't learn anything."

"'To be patient with the course. You may feel like you are not doing good at first and that the class is really hard, but with time you get used to the layout and the points add up quickly.' I feel that this quote not only sums up how everyone should approach your class, but how everyone should approach life in general. It makes no sense to stress yourself out over things that will probably work out in the end. Didn't you leave UC Davis for just that reason?"

"'Relax and have fun don't overstudy, don't overestimate the difficulty of this course. Read read read!! Do your online homework and go to class. Take thorough notes!!!' I agree with it because from past experiences when you're overstressed it's hard to focus, which is why you need to relax and try to enjoy the information you're learning about. If you think the class is going to be difficult then it will be, but if you try to enjoy it then it'll come to you. Notes and homework are always a key so you can go back and look them over to study."

"'Love the subject you're learning about, have a curious mind, and ask questions when you don't get it. (You have an awesome instructor and helpful group members around you to help you out!)' I picked this piece of advice because it's the advice that stood out the most to me! Sometimes, I need to be reminded to have a curious mind and I am stubborn about asking for help. I'm hoping that I will be able to love this subject, always stay curious, and be willing to ask questions when I don't understand."

"'Yo, this isn't astrology, so get that out of your head.' I definitely had a chuckle with that one."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I purchased my starwheel from the bookstore and have played around with it for a bit, but I'm still confused. I don't know if I'm overthinking how to use it or if I simply don't know how to use it." (There will be more practice with the starwheels tonight.)

"I'm super-excited to see how the flipped classroom format works and how effective it is, I've never been enrolled in a class with this format."

"Are you thinking of/going to be flipping this class?" (We're already flipped!)

"Do you think it would be more important to take detailed notes on the chapter reading or the online presentations? How well do you think a person will do in this class if they only read the online presentations and not the assigned textbook readings?" (Take notes on both; the online presentations are meant to emphasize the key points to be covered in the textbook, so they are both important, for different reasons.)

"Are you going to let us know what exactly might be on a quiz so we know what to study?" (A study guide has already been posted, and in class you'll get to practice taking last semester's quiz tonight.)

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